One of My First Loves

Anybody that knows me, knows that Lori is the love of my life. We were truly meant to be together, in fact, we really didn’t have a whole lot of choice, but that’s a different post.

One of my very first loves though, was writing. There is just something about putting words down on a page, or a screen, that people read and get something out of. I’ve just never found anything else that feels the same way. Photography comes close but it isn’t the same.

I guess part of why writing feels the way it does to me is because I’ve never been able to write much that didn’t have bits and pieces of me in it, even when I tried to keep them out. The funny thing is that I don’t necessarily notice it at the time. It’s when I’ve finished and read back through that I realize that I’ve left more on the page than I intended. I guess that’s just the nature of the beast, all these words have to come from somewhere.

Probably one of my favorite things that I’ve ever written was originally written for a column in the Williston Pioneer. I set out to write about an older gentleman who was very important to me and actually helped form the way I looked at the world. I lamented that, because I was so young, I couldn’t really remember exactly what we talked about or even how his voice sounded. I thought it was strange that I could know that he had made such a difference in my life and then not really remember exactly what he did to accomplish that.

I’ve thought about it over the years and a couple things have become clear. Whatever it was that Mr. Thomas said to me while we walked up to the post office every morning, it stuck. Though I’ve wandered away from writing many times, I always come back. I always realize that there is a part of me that isn’t quite realized any other way. Maybe that was what he did for me, he pointed my compass in this particular direction and whenever I need to get my bearings, I get that compass out and the words start to stream out. I’m always a little rusty when I first come back but that’s okay because that’s part of the process. Unlike a real compass that comes around instantly, mine always takes a few swings before it finds true North.

So, in talking about one of my first true loves, I guess what I’m doing is telling Mr. Thomas that I’m back. I might not always write the same sort of things that he did, he was a historian, but I can’t help but hope that some of these words belong to him and I’m just borrowing them to keep them, and maybe him, alive.

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Yulee Railroad Days

Like many other small towns in North Central Florida, Archer‘s size and its make up has changed over the years. In the 1840s to the 1850s, it was known as Deer Hammock and then Darden’s Hammock.  David Levy Yulee, who owned a plantation in the area, changed its name to Archer, in honor of a friend, James T. Archer, the former Secretary of State of Florida, who was a close friend.

From the City of Archer’s website:

“According to Rance Braley’s book Nineteenth Century Archer (available for purchase at the depot), by 1844, Archer had nine general stores, a sawmill, three saloons, a hotel, and many other businesses. In the mid 1890’s, Henry Plant built a rail line through Archer to Tampa.”

David Levy Yulee was born in 1810 and went on to become an attorney, a territorial delegate to Congress, the first Jewish member of the United States Senate, a member of the Confederate Congress during the American civil War and the founder of the Florida Railroad Company. The city of Archer celebrates Yulee Railroad Days in his honor.

I attended this year’s Yulee Railroad Days and came away with a few photos to share.

Firing the CannonIf you put a photographer anywhere near a cannon, it is a guarantee that they will spend as long as it takes to get a shot just as it is fired.

Firing the Cannon

1890’s house

Archer Mansion

One of the exhibits inside Archer’s Railroad Museum.

Inside Railroad Museum

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Town of Tioga Art Festival

Lori and I went to the Art Festival in Town of Tioga yesterday. There was a number of amazing artists there but one in particular stood out.

Eric Shupe, Recurve Creations, made my day with an art form that I had never seen done before. Well, that’s not entirely true, we’ve all seen people make things out of silverware before but Eric’s art is a huge step above anything I’ve seen done with this medium. It literally stopped me in my tracks.

Alissa by Eric Shupe

Click on the image above and go see some more of this artist’s work.

from Eric’s site:

“The most common question I get is “How did you come up with the idea to make things out of silverware?”. The answer usually gets a laugh out of everyone. I was sitting at a table and looked down to see 2 spoons laying upside down next to each other. My first thought was “That looks just like a butt”. So I went with that.”

” This piece (the one pictures above) was one I made of my daughter, Alissa. Alissa is my pride and joy and I wanted to make a piece that captured her beauty and grace.”

The festival is open again today from 10-5 and is definitely worth the trip. For those who might not know where Town of Tioga is, it is between Gainesville and Jonesville on Newberry Road or State Road 26.

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CONTACT: DEP Press Office,

~Facts and information about encountering sinkholes in the state of Florida~

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Geological Survey has compiled the following information to provide a single point source for general knowledge about the nature of sinkholes in the state of Florida and additional information about proper protocol should you ever encounter a sinkhole in an urban area.

Facts about sinkholes in Florida:

-The entire state of Florida sits on top of several thousand feet of limestone. Limestone is a rock that can form with natural void spaces called porosity.  In limestone where the void spaces are connected, the rock is permeable.  Porous and permeable limestone makes great aquifers and provide millions of gallons of fresh drinking water for residents and agriculture. The most significant factor in the development of sinkholes is the dissolution of the limestone underlying Florida by naturally acidic groundwater.

-Sinkholes are a natural and common feature of Florida’s landscape. They are only one of many kinds of karst landforms, which include depressions, caves (both air and water filled), disappearing streams, springs and underground aquifer systems, all of which occur in Florida. Thousands of naturally occurring sinkholes can be seen throughout the state of Florida including many that connect underground to springs, rivers and lakes.

-Sinkholes form in karst terrain from the collapse of surface sediments into underground voids. In Florida one may see solution sinkholes, cover-subsidence sinkholes or cover-collapse sinkholes. The first two types will show very little topographical disturbance to the naked eye, while the third is the type which shows a abrupt change in topography and is most associated with the thought of sinkholes.

Questions about sinkholes in urban and suburban environments:

-My yard is settling… Do I have a sinkhole? Maybe. But a number of other factors can cause holes, depressions or subsidence of the ground surface. Expansive clay layers in the earth may shrink upon drying, buried organic material, poorly-compacted soil after excavation work, buried trash or logs and broken pipes all may cause depressions to form at the ground surface. These settling events, when not verified as true sinkholes by professionals, are collectively called “subsidence incidents.” If the settling is affecting a dwelling, further testing by a licensed engineer with a licensed geologist on staff or a licensed geology firm may be in order. Property insurance may pay for testing, but in many cases insurance may not cover damage from settling due to causes other than sinkholes.

-A sinkhole opened in my neighborhood… should I be concerned? Although sinkholes in Florida sometimes occur in sets, most are isolated events. The bedrock underlying the state is honeycombed with cavities of varying size, most of which will not collapse in our lifetimes. A quick inspection of your property for any sinking or soft areas might be prudent. Unless the sinkhole is very large, and extends to your property, there’s likely to be little reason for concern.

Should a sinkhole open in an area near you the hole should be immediately cordoned off and clearly marked to protect traffic. Contact local law enforcement to report the hazard and call your city or county road department to initiate repair work. If the road is private, repair of the hole is usually the responsibility of the landowner or property owners’ association.

-Is there a safe area of Florida where there is no chance of sinkholes?Technically, no. Since the entire state is underlain by carbonate rocks, sinkholes could theoretically form anywhere. However, there are definite regions where sinkhole risk is considerably higher. In general, areas of the state where limestone is close to surface, or areas with deeper limestone but with a conducive configuration of water table elevation, stratigraphy, and aquifer characteristics have increased sinkhole activity.

Additionally, the Department announced Friday that the Florida Geological Survey, in conjunction with the Florida Division of Emergency Management, has received a $1.1 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to address sinkhole vulnerability. Find more information here.

About the Florida Department of Environmental Protection

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s principal environmental agency, created to protect, conserve and manage Florida’s environment and natural resources. The Department enforces federal and state environmental laws, protects Florida’s air and water quality, cleans up pollution, regulates solid waste management, promotes pollution prevention and acquires environmentally-sensitive lands for preservation. The agency also maintains a statewide system of parks, trails and aquatic preserves. To view the Department’s website log on to

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The Levy Times-Democrat

If you are interested in what was happening in Levy County, Florida in the 1890s, check out the Levy Times-Democrat in the University of Florida‘s, Florida Digital Newspapers Collection.

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Native Recipes From The Virgin Islands

(this is part of a new series of posts showing some of the items that reside in the University of Florida Digital Collection)


Native Recipes from the Virgin Islands

(click on the writing above to see the recipes)

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